The future of frontline workers is being created today!

In today’s digitalized world, we are increasingly served through the internet and mobile applications, without seeing the frontline employee. In simple procedures such as purchasing insurance, or opening a bank account, these applications are pleasant and time-saving for the customer, writes Eveliina Saari, a specialist researcher at FIOH.

Frontline employees disappearing?

From the point of view of service workers, the digital transition of work may be surprising. Previous face-to-face customer service work, with enjoyable features such as socializing with customers, suddenly disappears into the back office.

In the worst case scenario, this causes service work to accelerate, become standardized and change into mass production. Service events become constantly measured and assessed. Control of workers creeps silently into the workplace, justified by efficiency.

The motivation of workers ‒ those who remain ‒ is expected to be based on rewards, sanctions and competition between peers.

Suddenly, workers realize they are working in a factory ruled by the principles of Taylorism.

The rise of new freedom and competence

In a positive scenario, employees feel a new kind of freedom at work. They can serve the customer from their homes or summer cottages. The integration of work, family life and hobbies is easier than ever before.

The accelerating pace of solving customers’ problems increases employees’ expertise and they become respected and invaluable.

Workers frequently report customer feedback to the ICT developers of service applications, thus improving the usability of digital services.

Employees’ ideas are voiced as part of their jobs and may lead to new services.

Which scenario would you prefer?

Value network as a locus of learning

FIOH is currently coordinating the Revolution of the Service Economy – the Human Being at the Core of Digitalization (2015‒2018) project.

FIOH’s contribution is to bring to light the evolving work of frontline employees in the digital era.

We will organize a learning process for four value networks and facilitate co-creation between customers, ICT developers and service providers, including managers and employees.

Eveliina Saari works as a Specialist Researcher and Project Manager of the Revolution of the Service Economy at FIOH (Twitter: @EveliinaSaari)

Modified 30.09.2015